The Jets not only shut down the notion that they were "backing in" but they showed they deserved to make the playoffs after their convincing 37-0 win at home against the Bengals on Sunday night.
"We come to play. We're not going to back down," said CB Darrelle Revis. "We want to make plays and that's what we want to do. We want to be aggressive. We want to be tenacious out there. We're not backing down from anybody."
The Jets' No. 1 defense proved that it's up to the task in allowing just 72 total yards in posting their second shutout of the season. Sunday was their most dominating performance since they defeated the Raiders, 38-0, in Week 7 and the Buccaneers, 26-3, in Week 14.
This time it was against a playoff team. The Jets will play the Bengals again on Saturday at Cincinnati in the AFC Wild Card Round.
Veteran QB Carson Palmer, who played into the third quarter, went 1-for-11 for zero yards, an interception and a 1.7 passer rating. WR Chad Ochocinco who had talked a big game all week, had no catches.
"This was probably the single most important game of my life. I've never been in a situation with the whole win-and-you're-in thing," said LB Calvin Pace, who will be making the first postseason appearance of his seven-year career. "We had to find a way to get this win and defensively with the turnovers, stopping the run, no big plays in the passing game, and the way the offense came out and bullied the ball in the run game, it was a total group effort today."
The league's No. 1 rushing attack ran for 257 yards against the Bengals' run defense, ranked second in the league before Sunday night.
"It feels good," said RB Thomas Jones. "It's a tribute to Coach Ryan. He never gave up on us. The ups and the downs of the season we stuck with it and kept it together. This is the kind of thing that happens when you stick together and play hard for 16 games."
With a first-year head coach and a rookie QB, not many envisioned a playoff run at the beginning of the season — except for those who stuck together all year.
"It was a 4-6 start, and we had a mission with our team," said head coach Rex Ryan. "We said it was impossible. Then it went to improbable. Then it went back to impossible. Then it became inevitable."
"From the first press conference, seeing Rex up there, I knew he was what we needed as far as with the talent that we have in the locker room," WR Jerricho Cotchery told newyorkjets.com. "Him coming in with the confidence that he has and instilling that confidence in this team, I knew we were going to be able to do some big things."
The Jets' group of veterans who've made the dance, some several times, and the young players who have never made it to the playoffs before have no question that they deserve to be among the 12 teams fighting for a chance to play in Miami next month.
"You don't always get these opportunities," said G Alan Faneca, who will be starting his 12th consecutive playoff game next Saturday. "You work hard all year. You have to embrace it and relish it and enjoy the moments. Guys play a long time to play in big games like we had tonight, like we're going to have next week."
"It seemed impossible at certain points in the year," said WR Brad Smith, making his second playoff appearance. "It's a blessing to be able to see what hard work does and what it can do. We're not done yet. We have a long way to go."
For all the tough losses that the Jets faced at home this season, they closed out the current Meadowlands stadium in excellent fashion, in front of a number of the Green & White greats who played in the stadium over the years and were honored at halftime.
"It's a great way to go out," said DE Shaun Ellis. "We have a lot of memories here. We're just looking forward to continuing those memories in the new stadium."
"You could throw records out now," said T Damien Woody. "Once you get into the playoffs it doesn't even matter what you did in the regular season. Everybody's 0-0 right now so we're just glad we have the opportunity, we're one of 12 teams to have an opportunity to play for it all. We're ready to go."
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